Ask the Author: Charlena Miller (What Lies Between)

Samstag, 27. Juni 2015

   Hey guys!
   For today Ask the Author I'm bringing you the awesome Charlena Miller, author of What Lies Between. I am extremely looking forward to reading her book, especially because it plays in Scotland which is definitely a country I'd love to visit one day.
   Here is her book and her A's for my Q's:

What Lies Between by Charlena Miller
February 28th 2015 by Red Bicycle Press

Number of Pages: 336 Pages (Hardcover)
Series: No

   Set in modern-day Scotland and laced with adventure, romance, and hope, What Lies Between reminds us that love and belonging are often discovered in the most unexpected places.
   Trust has never come easily to Ellie Jameson. A broken past taught her that self-reliance is the only option—no one sticks around for the long haul. When a fateful letter arrives with news of an unexpected inheritance, she sees a silver lining in the tragedy that seems to follow her. Anxious to leave American city life for the rugged Scottish Highlands, she sets off to claim her fate in a whirlwind of determination. Captivated by the land of stunning lochs, fiery whisky, and a particularly charming Highland local, it seems things may finally be turning around . . .
   But nothing could have prepared Ellie for what awaits at the Glenbroch estate, where she soon discovers very little is as it seems. The rugged, romantic Highlands harbor old secrets and vengeful enemies, entangling her in a web of lies and betrayal. As the line between ally and enemy blurs, Ellie is in danger of forfeiting her inheritance—as well as her heart. (

Interview with Charlena Miller

   1 - Describe What Lies Between with five adjectives.
   Adventure-packed, mysterious, emotional, romantic, unexpected

   2 - What sparked the idea behind What Lies Between? Was it a name, a sentence, Outlander, or something entirely different?
   It was 2013 and I had just left my home in Scotland, which I loved, but my visa was up; this move coincided with the discovery that my birth father had died. I decided to process the sense of loss and write about it. I woke up the next morning in Germany with the story clear in my mind. I wrote the complete outline that day.
   The idea for the title of the book came from my interest in astronomy and particularly what lies between the stars visible to the naked eye. The Hubble telescope revealed that at least 10,000 galaxies our eyes aren’t strong enough to see lie behind a speck of dark sky the size of a grain of sand. This fact made me think of all the things we can’t see that lie between people—the unspoken thoughts, the truths and deceptions, and what lies between one’s heart and mind, as well as the distance between two hearts, between the past and the future, between current reality and our dreams. What happens when someone takes a risk to cross the distance for a chance to truly understand and connect with someone else or reach for one’s own dreams?

   3 – I know you have been in Scotland yourself in the past; therefore I am sure you’ve seen some of the places we get to see in What Lies Between. How much additional research did you have to do?
   When I first visited Scotland I fell in love with the country, specifically the Highlands and the Isle of Skye. The settings in the book were borne out of my experiences there. I did go back to my favorite places to make sure I got the sense of them reasonably accurate. I will add that it was challenging to strike the balance of immersing readers in a place that is such a powerful character itself, as Scotland is, while focusing on the people and relationships in the story.

   4 - What do you like the most about your protagonist, Ellie, and what do you like the least?
   I like most that even though she has every reason to be self-protective, she chooses to take risks. She has a good heart and wants to see the good in people even when her trust has been broken many times.
   One character trait that gets in Ellie’s way is her tendency to push people away out of fear that what has happened in the past will repeat itself. At times, it’s easier for her to apply a superficial judgment than to leap and take the risk, and she tends to hold back—she has to learn to risk. This trait can make her frustrating at times; I wanted to have it out with her and push her to do what I wanted her to do. But she can be quite stubborn.

   5- How long did it take you from first idea until publishing deal? And how many queries did it take until you found 'the one'?
   The book took two years from the first idea until its release. I chose not to query this book as I wanted to independently publish What Lies Between.

   6 - What was your first thought when you saw the final cover design?
   I loved it! It was important to me that the artist capture the blues of a Scottish summer night and he did this brilliantly. I also wanted an unexpected cover, and after sorting through options, we landed on what became the final design.

   7 - How does it feel to know that as of February 28th thousands of people can pick up your book and read your story? How scared were your of the first reviews done by those who received ARCs?
   Immediately after news of the pre-order was announced, I left my house to go running and sprinted much farther than my fitness level could afford, pushing up a distant hill. At the top of the hill I chucked up the pent-up energy of nerves, exhaustion, and anticipation; it felt symbolic and cathartic. Probably not what one imagines an author doing in a moment like that. J

   8 – What was your favorite place out of the ones you visited in Scotland?
   The Isle of Skye is a place I will always return to. One of the specific locations on Skye that I go back to frequently is Kinloch Forest and the clearance village ruins of Leitir Fura, which is the location of a scene in the book.

   9 - Ice cream or cake?
   Both! I would have said ice cream, hands down, but I have recently begun to appreciate really good cake as well. I’m in a summery lemon and raspberry phase. I love to bake so I’m always concocting new baked goods.

   10 - Did you listen to any particular songs or artists while writing What Lies Between? If so, could you give us an example?
   A few of the songs I listened to (and there were many):
   Orphan Girl, Gillian Welch
   The Reach, Miranda Lee Richards
   I Lived, One Republic
   Come by the Hills, a traditional Scottish song performed by Kenny Jamieson (who is part of the Scottish band, Schiehallion)

   11 - If you were forced to participate in The Hunger Games, as female from District 12, what would be your strategy? Fight or flight?
   I would likely head into the forest, observe the rest who had started fighting right away, and think through next steps.

About the Author

   After working in marketing, I took a creative sabbatical, departing with a one-way plane ticket, traveling solo, no itinerary. Much of the time was spent on foot or in the saddle of a mountain bike discovering the tucked away locations I integrate into my stories.
   My debut novel, What Lies Between, is set in the Highlands of Scotland, a land that stole my heart and refused to give it back. After living there for some time and eventually having to return to the States, I really had no choice but to write a tale set in the land of legends, lochs, glens. Most of the places in the book are real or are based on locations I spent time in. I hope you enjoy Ellie’s Scotland adventure as much as I did researching and writing it.
   To go behind-the-scenes of my writing journey, visit and sign up for news and exclusive content.

Review: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Donnerstag, 25. Juni 2015

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Published: September 1st 2015 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Number of Pages: 320 Pages (Hardcover)
Series: No

   My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.
   But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.
   Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster. (

* I received an eARC via Random House Children's and NetGalley in exchange for a honest review *

   Everything, Everything is a remarkable story told through a beautiful voice which belongs to a unique narrator and a plot filled with twists, cute moments and those who make you stop and really think again about what you've just read.
   In Everything, Everything we follow the story of a girl called Madeline who is literally allergic to the world as she suffers of a very rare disease called SCID (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency). Because of SCID Madeline cannot leave her house, which means she's basically spend her entire life inside. Before reading this book I was aware that diseases like SCID exist and that people suffer from them but I've never been able to even as much as fathom how it must feel like to have it. Thanks to this book and reading from Madeline's perspective, I now do.
   All her life Madeline only had her mother and her nurse, Carla, to talk to in person. She could never make real friends, never have them come over (without extensive medical checkups and alike) or the possibility of going out with them. But, one day, a new family moved into the house next door and that's where the story really took off.

“It's a hard concept to hold on to--the idea that there was 
a time before us. A time before time.
In the beginning there was nothing. And then 
there was everything.”

   I adored Madeline and her narration. I really, really liked her character and would have loved to have her as my friend, if she were real that is. It was really easy to understand the decisions she made and why she made them. What impressed me the most about her was the fact that despite having such a hard life, being so restricted and limited in terms of things she can do, she never stopped being a happy person. She is friendly, positive and just a very strong character in an entirely different way then characters usually are when you call them "strong".
   And then there was Olly, the boy next door, who was intriguing and fascinating from the second on in which he appeared in the story. He is the exact opposite of Madeline. Seeing the two of them interact, become friends and then something more was super cute and fun to read about.

“You can't predict the future. It turns out that you can't predict the past either. 
Time moves in both directions - forward and backward - and what happens 
here and now changes them both.”

   All in all, Everything, Everything is a heartfelt, unique and cute story you should definitely not miss out on. This story was just so good and had so many different aspects in terms of how the story is told. The characters felt like real people, their decisions and dialogues were amazing and the plot twist at the end was just wow. I definitely didn't see it coming and wasn't expecting it at all, which is always a good thing.
I give Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon 5 out of 5 Stars.

Review: True Calling by Siobhan Davis

Dienstag, 23. Juni 2015

True Calling by Siobhan Davis
Published: October 2014 by Siobhan Davis
Number of Pages: 400 Pages (Paperback)
Series: Yes, #1

   Planet Novo, nestled in space twelve hundred miles above the surface of the Earth, is the new home of 17-year-old Cadet Ariana Skyee. Confused by the government-sanctioned memory erase and distressed at her impending forced marriage and motherhood, Ariana’s plans for the future are thrown into complete disarray.
   As the traumatic events within her family life enfold, Ariana grows increasingly alarmed at the authorities apparent pre-occupation with her and feels progressively more isolated and alone.
   Her growing feelings for fellow Cadet Cal Remus intensify as the recently announced pageant, ‘The Calling’, gets underway. Struggling to comprehend the continuous, inexplicable dreams of the mysterious Zane, discovering the past helps shape her future, with devastating personal consequences. (

* I received a copy of True Calling from the author in exchange for an honest review *

   I've had this book on my 'to-read' list on goodreads for months so I was quite happy when the author approached me and asked if I would be interested in reviewing this book.
   The first thing that drew me in was, no surprise here, of course the really gorgeous cover. The next thing was the concept of humanity leaving earth behind to start a new life on a different planet and the fact that they used quite intriguing technology to help you forget those you left behind on earth. Of course only very specific types of people were allowed to join the new world, which comes as no surprise.

“It’s degrading being routinely subjected to a battery of medical tests 
to ensure I continue to deserve a place in this new world.”

   True Calling managed to hook me quickly and allowed me to fly through it, despite being quite a lengthy read. Siobhan has a beautiful writing style that catches your attention and doesn't let you go until you're done.

   As for the characters I really liked Ariana and even more the fact that despite the 'nostalgia elixir' (th previously mentioned technology to make you forget) love found a way to seep through the tiniest of cracks and find it's way back into Ari, even though she didn't quite understand it at first.
   The one thing that did bug me about Ari was how quickly she changed her mind about Cal, but other then that her actions seemed reasonably paced and understandable.

“My romantic history since arriving on Novo has been non-existent, 
but I don't know what, if anything, came before; thanks to the 
government's cerebral pilfering.”

   I enjoyed the fact that True Calling wasn't just your average sci-fi or YA romance book, that it brought it's own spin on a possible, though still quite terrifying, way humanities future might look like. I mean, imagine our world completely run down and used up, moving to a different planet, having your memories erased to make it easier for you, and the fact that, as someone who is seventeen, you will have to be one of those who will have to help populate your new home. Not quite what seventeen year olds dream of, right? But, it sounds like something that could be possible, in a still quite far future, if we make it that far, which is always nice to have.

   All in all, True Calling was an interesting read that I enjoyed quite a bit. I was hooked quite quickly and definitely want to continue on with the series, which is awesome especially because Siobhan has also given me book two, ... , which I hope to get to soon. So, if you're looking for a interesting new sci-fi, romance, dystopian YA read with a spin and beautiful writing, check out True Calling!
   I give True Calling by Siobhan Davis 4 out of 5 Stars.

Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Samstag, 20. Juni 2015

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
October 20th 2015 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

Number of Pages: 608 Pages (Hardcover)
Series: Yes, #1 of The Illuminae Files

   This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.
   This afternoon, her planet was invaded.
   The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.
   But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.
   Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes. (

* Thank you NetGalley and Random House Children's for proving an eARC in exchange for an honest review *

   Where do I start with this book? I have no idea because, even ten days after finishing it, I still don't know how to put my thoughts regarding this book into a coherent stream of words that would make sense to everyone and not just me.
   Illuminae is a book unique in so many ways, not only due to the extraordinary way through which the story is told, but also thanks to the brilliant writing of Amie and Jay who created characters that felt like they are actually real, documents that made me feel like I'm some agent reading through actual secret files and a AI that made you both hate it, fear it and pity it. Illuminae blows fresh wind into the genre of sci-fi which one should definitely not miss out on.
   When I first heard about this book months ago, I wasn't sure if it would be my thing but once I heard more details and saw early reviews of it on BookTube I was already in love with it and knew I had to get my hands on it. Of course, situations like that oftentimes come with the annoying factor of high expectations which can ruin a book for you, but not this one. If I was expecting a 8 out of 10 when I opened the book, I finished it knowing it deserves at least 20 out of 10, no joke.

   The story itself might seem simple: It's the story of two teens who live in 2575, who broke up the day their planet gets invaded. Luckily, both manage to get onto one of the rescue ships (different ones) and flee, but war is coming. As simple and classical as this might seem for a sci-fi novel, it is about WAY more than that. The story has so much depth, relatable and hatable characters, tough decisions, a beautiful love story and AIDEN, on whom I will not elaborate to not spoil anything.

"Am I not merciful?"
(That quote probably will seem weird until you'll read the book, so go and read it)

   The two main characters, Kady and Ezra are captivating. Kady is a huge nerd but she also kicks total butt in the best way possible while Ezra is swoon worthy and just the perfect counterpart to Kady. Reading their conversations and rooting for them is amazing, though most of the time it's anything but rainbows and puppies. Don't forget there is war and war has the not very friendly side effect of people dying or at least getting hurt. Seeing them deal with the situations they have to face is amazing.

   But the best thing about this book is the plot which was created by two masterminds who exactly know how to create a scene which will make you hold your breath while the scenes unfold in front of you. There are so many plot twists in this book that I didn't see coming, that were impossible to even imagine as reader and the ending blew my mind because THAT I really did not see coming. Where did Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff take their brains from?! Please masters, teach me the art of awesome!
   Anyway, I could go on and on about how brilliant this book is but that would require spoilers which I definitely want to avoid because you guys simply have to go and get it the second it comes out, seriously, it's totally worth every dollar!

   All in all, Illuminae is mind blowing, extraordinary, feels causing and just nothing you've ever read before. I cannot wait to get my hands on a finished hardcover copy (which mind me I rarely buy those so when I do, you know the book is special, or only out as hardcover but pshhh no one has to know).
I give Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff 5 out of 5 stars.

BLOG TOUR Interview: Sarah Gagnon (Date with a Rockstar)

Dienstag, 16. Juni 2015

   Hey guys!
   Today I'm part of a blog tour for Date with a Rockstar by Sarah Gagnon which comes out . Below you'll find the interview I did with her and also info about her book, which I'm looking forward to reading soon. Thank you to Spencer Hill Press for making me part of this tour and Sarah for taking time to answer my questions.
   Here is her book and her interview:

Date with a Rockstar by Sarah Gagnon
Published: June 23rd 2015 by Spencer Hill Press
Number of Pages: 320 Pages (Paperback)
Series: No

   Only one girl will win the cash prize...and a chance at love with Jeremy Bane.
   Monet isn’t just another lust-struck teenager trying to win the heart of Rock God Jeremy Bane--she needs the prize money from his new reality show to cure her illness.
   Monet has Fluxem, a contagious disease that's spread through saliva. It's completely curable if you have enough money, which she and her single mother don't. Now that she's on the show, Monet has to work harder to keep her Fluxem hidden. She only has to keep the secret long enough to woo Jeremy Bane so he picks her as the winner. She doesn't even care about the love part; the prize alone will change her life.
   But the real Jeremy Bane is nothing like she imagined. Monet finds herself fighting against feelings that make her want to give in to her attraction and Jeremy's attempts for a kiss. The further she goes in the competition, the more impossible it becomes to resist him--and when the producers turn the tables and start digging up dirt on the contestants, Monet fears her secret will be revealed before she's ready and ruin everything.
   The only way to win Jeremy's heart is to tell him the truth, but confessing her disease could cost her the competition, the prize money, and him. (

Interview with Sarah Gagnon

   1 – Describe Date with a Rockstar in a twitter pitch.
   Desperate teen girl competes on a reality dating show to win the money to cure her disease, but falls for the gorgeous rockstar.

   2 – What lead to the idea of Date with a Rockstar?
   The initial idea was from a dream. In the dream I was on a bus making out with this famous guy. There were cameras in the background, but we’d try to get away and he was talking privately to me, like he really cared and I was special. Lots more making-out and then…time jump. I’m walking through an aisle of guests on a reality TV show and they’re booing me—shaking their heads and generally disgusted. The guy I was making out with and believed we had a real connection, makes eye contact with me and shakes his head. I can’t understand what he’s trying to tell me. Then the audience is telling him who to pick and he doesn’t choose me. I woke up with this crushing feeling of rejection, and that’s where the idea started.
   The next day I was watching a live concert online and the musician was surrounded by computers and pushing buttons. I remember thinking this is what music will look like in the future.
   The day after that, I started writing Date With a Rockstar. That was the title before I even wrote a single word.

   3 – Was there a scene in the book you specifically remember writing because it stuck out to you, either in a positive or negative way?
   There’s a particularly romantic scene in a hydro garden with the growlights like warm little suns surrounding Monet and Jeremy. I love the idea of being warm under the sun, but somehow more private than you ever could be outdoors. After being followed around by cameras, I pictured that as a perfect escape for Monet.

   4 – How did you come up with the concept of a main character with a disease transferred through salvia participating in a bachelor-type contest?
   I really liked the idea of having a disease that physically marked a person, but wasn’t terminal. Originally, I wanted it to be more of a question of vanity, but Fluxem changed a lot during the edits. For the reality show, I wanted to give her a good reason to participate.

   5 – How long did it take you from first idea until publishing deal? And how many queries did it take until you found 'the one'?
   When I wrote this book, I spent two months on a solid draft. Then I started querying agents. That took awhile, and I did more revisions based on feedback. I have a tendency to not want my characters to suffer, since I love them. So the first revisions were about making Monet’s situation worse. After that I got my first offer of representation.
   I signed with Nicole Resciniti 4 months after finishing the book. It took about 10 months after that to receive an offer from Spencer Hill Press.
   Specific numbers: This was the 4th book I’ve queried. I had a grand total of 354 rejections before I got an agent. That said, I wasn’t very choosy in the beginning. I think I just loved the query lotto. Many authors are more focused in their searches and have fewer rejections.

   6 – How do you feel about the fact that in a couple of months, thousands upon thousands of people will be able to read your book?
   I sure hope it’s that many! It feels great to interact with readers, and I so hope people will enjoy reading my book as much as I’ve enjoyed reading thousands of others.

   7 – Did you listen to specific bands or albums while writing Date with a Rockstar or do you rather prefer writing in silence?
   I have small children and I usually write to the sound of children’s shows. No music at all, which is funny considering the subject matter. When I listen to music, I think too much about the specific songs and meaning behind the lyrics.

   8 – What do you think about the final cover?
   That I’m glad they replaced his head, lol.

   9 – Music genre: Indie or Metal?

   10 – If you were forced to participate in The Hunger Games, as female from District 12, what would be your strategy? Fight or flight?
   I would totally hide. I’m not that coordinated and I’m bad with loud, sudden noises. I don’t think I could fire a gun, or pull back the string on a bow. If I couldn’t hide, I’d be picked off immediately.

About the Author
 Sarah Gagnon grew up in the frigid woods of Maine amidst snow and animal skins and has now moved back home. As a small child she wrote ship-wrecked romances all while being stared down by a taxidermied duck.
   She has a BFA in photography and a minor in writing from the University of Southern Maine. She's the mother of two tiny, feral children and two ill-behaved dogs. For fun she’s taken up construction and interior design. Her first project: moving into a dilapidated farmhouse with her computer-genius husband.

Find Sarah: Website, Twitter, Facebook

Buy Date with a Rockstar: AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieBoundThe Book Depository or Kobo

Win a paperback copy of Date with a Rockstar and a T-Shirt! (US only, sorry)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Writing retreat with Courtney C. Stevens & mini interview

Montag, 15. Juni 2015

   Hey guys!
   I'm calling out to all the writers! The wonderful Courtney C. Stevens, author of Faking Normal and The Lies about the Truth (Out November 3rd) has reached out to me and a bunch of other bloggers to raise your attention toward a writers retreat she is holding. She
wrote a wonderful post about it, which you guys should most definitely check out, over on her blog which made me really want to go, but as non US resident that's a bit tricky which is why I'm telling you guys about. I'm sure there are others like me out there, aspiring authors who could benefit from attending such a retreat. The MadCap Retreat will also be featuring guest writers such as Victoria Schwab (Vicious, A Darker Shade of Magic and many more), Tessa Gratton, and Natalie C. Parker. How much better can it get?

   Head on over to the MadCap Retreat website and have a look around. If you're worried about financing there is an amazing opportunity waiting for you! Help us spread the word about the retreat and then enter this contest (which runs from June 15th-June 20th) to win a $300 coupon for the retreat! There are three of them in total which is amazing. There are also a couple other awesome prizes up for grabs as well! Check it out:

   1- 50 page manuscript critique by Courtney C. Stevens
   3- signed copies of Faking Normal (U.S./Canada Only)
   1- ARC of The Lies About Truth (U.S./Canada Only)
   5 - electronic copies of The Blue Haired Boy

   Furthermore, Courtney has taken a bit of her time to answer three writer and marketing related questions for you guys. Isn't she amazing?

   1) What do you think is the most important part in the process of creating a story?
   In my opinion, the idea itself. It must be worth pursuing. Good writing and great characters cannot rescue a bad idea. The idea is the lid of the whole project and every other part of the story exists beneath it.

   2) What tip could you give others who might be facing a dry season, so to speak, during their writing process? Taking a break or pushing through? Something entirely different?
   I have several pieces of advice for this, because a dry season isn't one-size-fits-all.
   a) Check your story intake. Are you seeing art? Watching great t.v.? Reading amazing books. Eavesdropping on conversations at the mall? I firmly believe that output relies on intake. The creative well isn't spring fed; it's transported one bucket at a time.
   b) Change the instrument. If you write on a computer, pick up a notebook. If you write on Microsoft Word, download Scrivener. If you write with a notebook, try a laptop. If you usually write in a nook in your house, take your phone and transcribe story into the notes section. I've found that change is the reset button for me.
   c) Take a life analysis. Sometimes a writing problem isn't a writing problem; it's a life problem. I find that I often put down in words something I'm struggling with, and then I get stuck in my writing, because I'm actually stuck in my life. I don't know how to write the end, because I haven't lived it yet. So I advise doing a quick evaluation to see where the actual problem lies.

   3) What are the key elements of a good book marketing campaign? Is there something like a secret recipe or does it all depend and vary from book to book?
   The key element of any great marketing campaign is making champions of either your work or yourself, and I advise the latter.
   There is no secret recipe. The closest thing I've discovered is adopting this mantra: no one is more invest in selling my book than me. What will I do today to make that happen?

   This is an amazing opportunity for all writers out there so take a chance who knows, you might win more then just a coupon but loads of wonderful insights from amazing authors. And, while you're at it, don't forget to check out Courtney's books. I've read Faking Normal last year and adored it.

Ask the Author: Lydia Kang (Control)

Samstag, 13. Juni 2015

   Hey guys!
   For this weeks Ask The Author I'm bringing you Lydia Kang, the author of Control. I'm really excited to share this interview with you guys.
   Here's her book and her interview:

Control by Lydia Kang
Published: December 26th 2013 by Dial Books for Young Readers
Number of Pages: 393 Pages (Hardcover)
Series: Yes, #1

   When a crash kills their father and leaves them orphaned, Zel knows she needs to protect her sister, Dyl. But before Zel has a plan, Dyl is taken by strangers using bizarre sensory weapons, and Zel finds herself in a safe house for teens who aren’t like any she’s ever seen before—teens who shouldn't even exist. Using broken-down technology, her new friends’ peculiar gifts, and her own grit, Zel must find a way to get her sister back from the kidnappers who think a powerful secret is encoded in Dyl’s DNA.
   A spiraling, intense, romantic story set in 2150—in a world of automatic cars, nightclubs with auditory ecstasy drugs, and guys with four arms—this is about the human genetic “mistakes” that society wants to forget, and the way that outcasts can turn out to be heroes. (

Interview with Lydia Kang

   1. There is quite a bit of science in this book. How much research went into it?
   Just a little, to be honest. I created the mutations out of my imaginations, and did a bit of research to sharpen up the details and make them a little more believable. It was nice having a background in biology and medicine--this part was easy!

   2. Is there one scene in particular that you remember drafting and being all excited while writing it?

   There is one fight where Vera is kicking butt and Hex is monster-raging on the bad guys. I loved writing that scene! It practically wrote itself. :)

   3. How long did it take you from first idea until publishing deal? And how many queries did it take until you found 'the one'?
   I blogged about my querying journey, complete with statistics:
   But for the short version--it took 27 months from my first novel idea to getting an agent and a book deal. Control was my third book written, and it took 101 query letters to get my agent, Eric Myers, with Control. The publishing deal with Penguin happened about 6 weeks later.

   4. What do you think about the cover? Is it like anything you imagined it might look like?
   I adore the Catalyst cover. I love how it evolves from the cold, metallic Control paperback, and becomes more lush, green, and organic. It's a great metaphor for what happens in the story. I'm really bad at imagining book covers, so this was a pleasant surprise!

   5. Which do you prefer: Dystopians or Paranormal?
   Over time, I've changed. Originally, I liked dystopians more because I appreciated the world building that went into making a dystopian society. Lately, I've enjoyed more nuanced paranormal--what might be called slipstream fiction, like Imaginary Girls.

   6. If you were forced to participate in The Hunger Games, as female from District 12, what would be your strategy? Fight or flight?
   I'd fly, for sure. I'm a bit like Rue, in that I'm good at climbing. I'm petite and was one of those kids who'd never get found in hide-and-go seek. So yeah--I'd run and hide!

About the Author

   I love salt more than chocolate. I'm somewhat small, yet deceptively strong. Sort of like an ant.
   I write YA fiction, poetry and narrative medical nonfiction. I'm a part time doc, full time family member, and rather oxygen dependent.
   My YA sci-fi novel, CONTROL, will debut December 2013 (Dial/Penguin). I'll be holding my breath until then. Watch me.

Trailer Review: The Martian and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part Two

Dienstag, 9. Juni 2015

   Hey guys!
   It's time for some trailer reviews! Originally I planned on writing two separate reviews for these two but then I decided against it. Today I'll be talking about, as the title suggests, the just released trailers for The Martian and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part Two. Both of these are movies I am highly anticipating so let's get right into it.

First off The Martian:

   "I'm going to have to science the shit out of this."
   Heck yes! I am beyond excited for this movie, even more so now that we have a trailer.
   When I first heard that they are making a movie out of The Martian by Andy Weir, one of my favorite books of last year, I was skeptical about it. We all know how book-to-movie adaptations usually work out and therefore I wasn't sure if Hollywood had it in them to make a good movie out of this book I fell in love with.
   I've changed my mind and am quite sure this will be an amazing movie, based on what we get from the trailer.
   The idea behind The Martian is quite simple: it's the story of astronaut Mark Watney who gets stuck on Mars after his crew had to abort their mission due to a storm. They all made it off of mars, Mark did not. As simple as that may seem, the story is amazing and watching Mark try to figure out how to survive on a planet where nothing grows is brilliant. From what we see of Mars in the trailer it seems amazing, and I finally have a visual in my mind when I think about the hub Mark lives in, as I had no clue how one would look like while I was reading the book.
   Matt Damon plays Mark, which I wasn't too sure how that will work as I'm not the biggest fan of his and the movies he's played in before, but after seeing a bit of his acting in the trailer made me quite hopeful that he will be a really good Mark.
   All in all, everything that we get to see in the trailer makes me super excited for the movie and I get jumpy each time I as much as even just think about it. Let's hope the rest of the movie will be just as amazing as this trailer!

And now, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part Two

   "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 76th Hunger Games."
   As you guys know, I love The Hunger Games. I loved the first two movies, liked the third one and am anticipating the finale, just like everybody else. I was really excited when I heard that we will get a teaser trailer soon, even more when they said it'll come out June 9th, being today.
   The problem is just that, after watching the teaser trailer, I feel underwhelmed by what we get to see. I know many people feel like Mockingjay is the weakest book in the trilogy, that it doesn't have enough plot to fill out two movies, and, after watching Mockingjay Part One, I was kind of on their side. Personally, I liked Mockingjay the book, but I fear that the movie makers will go into either of two directions: too much focus on the love story or too much focus on big explosions and action sequences.
   Okay, I admit, the wedding looks super cute, the scenes where Katniss hugs Peeta and Prim are adorable, and yes we all know why they are in there, we know you want to make us suffer, dear movie makers, we know. But, even the action sequences with exploding cars, the black tar crashing through the streets and Katniss' speech somehow have no effect on me. Whereas I get excited each time I see the trailer for The Martian, I just feel underwhelmed and only mildly exited for Mokingjay Part Two. Of course I still want to see the movie badly, of course I am super sad that this will be the end, but the teaser didn't make me more excited, like a teaser should make you feel.
   Maybe my problem lies within the fact that it took me at least two screenings to like the third movie which makes me worry that 'what if the fourth one won't be as good? what if it'll be like the third one, and not as amazing and outstanding like Catching Fire?' but I guess a teaser won't easy my worries, as it is merely a teaser and not the entire thing.
   Nonetheless I am looking forward to the movies and the next trailers, I hope the movie will be excellent and a worthy finale to the series.
   "Snow has to pay for what he's done."

   All in all I am super excited for both these movies. Tell me what you think in the comments below or tweet me @Alice_Reeds!

Let's be excited together!

Sonntag, 7. Juni 2015

   Hey guys!
   Just like the title suggests I have some exciting things to tell you about. They always say that an idea for a novel, or any kind of story, can be born out of virtually everything and anything, I agree with that. Around the beginning of 2015 I suddenly had this name in my head, this quite different name, and I knew that I wanted to come up with a history for that name, create the person which belongs to it. At first it was only something I was doing in my head for the fun of it, but soon the name grew into something much bigger.
   More names joined, more information’s started to appear and suddenly all these characters had lives and histories, childhood memories and goals. Suddenly this name in my mind had turned into an entire story I felt the need to tell and share.

 A could of weeks late I had around 35.000 words down, the entire story planned out but I was stuck. It's hard to explain what I mean by that, how one can be stuck despite knowing exactly where you are going and which way you need to take, but I suddenly lost my connection to the story. The April round of Camp NaNoWriMo was coming up and I originally planned to finish the book during that time but suddenly I faced the fact that I couldn't. So I did what I always do, I started a different story to get a break and a step back. A couple of days into Camp NaNoWriMo the spark had returned and well before the end of April the story was complete. The first draft of my fourth book had been born.
   I spent the next weeks working on it, re-writing passages that I felt were not quite there yet, edited and revised it until I was happy with the way it was, until I felt that that was it, that was the story I wanted to tell and it was the way I wanted to do it.
Next followed the part that anyone who ever wrote a book with the dream of being published had to go through: querying.

   For those who don't know what a query is: a query is a type of e-mail you send out to agents, and publishers, in order of raising their interest and, ultimately, pulling them on your side. The better your query, the better your chances, though of course a good query isn't everything, your story needs to be good, too.

   And then the unimaginable happened. A month prior to my birthday I told a friend just how brilliant it would be to get a publishing deal before my 21st birthday thinking that it was something that would never happen, because I didn't think I would be just that lucky. I was wrong. I signed a publishing deal with Limitless Publishing on the day of my 21st birthday.
   Now, weeks later, I'm here to tell you guys about it all, have a little chat, story time style. I don't want to tell you too much about the story yet, because the release is still a good two months or more away, but I can tell you that it is a YA contemporary dealing with finding who you really are, overcoming differences, the importance of family and friends, and finding love in times and places you'd least expect it. I know, quite different from what I previously wrote. The title changed two times before the final one has been decided, it changed from two words, to five and finally landed on three: Petty Little Lives.
   The title has a lot of meaning when it comes to the story, which is really nice. It might seem simple, maybe even a tiny bit weird, but once you guys will read it you'll understand the meaning behind it.

   Lastly, Petty Little Lives is set to be released on August 18th 2015. It doesn't have a cover yet, nor does it have a goodreads page, but I will update you guys on everything that is happening along the way. I am really excited to finally have a book being published by an actual publishing house with professional cover designers, editors, formatters and people who believed that my story is worth being told. I am also really excited, and only a tin bit nervous, when I think of the day you guys will be able to read it. I know I didn't tell you much yet about the story, but it's all coming soon!

   Before I will end this post I want to share the name with you which sparked it all, and also the second one which joined in days later: Roxanna Revolution and her cousin Sapphire Hope. I like names that are different, which I'm sure you've noticed by now.

   Anyway, that is all for today. I hope you guys are just as excited as I am for Petty Little Lives as I am.


Review: Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

Dienstag, 2. Juni 2015

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
Published: May 19th 2015 by Greenwillow Books
Pages: 448 Pages (Hardcover)
Series: No

   Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook, and Liar.
   Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn't she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal.
   Funny, provoking, and ultimately moving, this debut novel featuring the quintessential unreliable narrator will have readers turning the pages and trying to figure out what is real and what is made up. (

“Dear Asshole: Thank you for keeping your word and believing me. It was more than I expected. Also, I'm sorry you were inconvenienced by my gluing your locker shut at the beginning of this year. However, I am not sorry that I did it, because it was a lot of fun. Love, Alex.”

   Made You Up was my most anticipated book of 2015. I fell in love with the cover and fell even more with the blurb which made me truly hope that I would end up liking it. Even more so after I had interviewed the author, Francesca Zappia, and realized the book comes out on my 21st birthday.
   After reading it I can honestly say it was one of my favorite reads of 2015 so far, maybe even my favorite. Made You Up was honest, captivating, extraordinary and weird in the best way possible. I've read many books but none were quite like this one.
   I loved the plotline and the characters which Francesca has created. I loved Alex's voice and just how truly unreliable she was. While reading certain scenes I found myself questioning her description of the scenery and the people because you could just never be entirely sure if it is really there. I was very happy to see that her mental illness, paranoid schizophrenia, really was a big part of her and the story, that it wasn't just something that was mentioned a couple times and soon forgotten, but something that was ever present. We got to see Alex try and deal with the things that were going on in a very realistic way and I loved her fascination for lobsters. Free the lobsters!
   Francesca's writing style was brilliant and on point. She managed to capture the atmosphere and mood of certain scenes perfectly which allows you to imagine it easily. I enjoyed the different bits of history that were simply part of what all the characters knew and were passionate about, which on the other hand made me feel like I know nothing, probably because it's been 4 years since I've last taken history in school.

“The only thing missing was Miles. But he was probably circling 
somewhere, destroying villages and hoarding gold in his mountain lair.”

   Miles Richter, the love interest in Made You Up, was fantastic. I love the fact that his nationality, German, played an actual role in this story, that it was mentioned and used in certain ways. And, thank you so much Francesca, the bits of dialogue that were in German were actually correct German which is always great to see in novels written by American authors.
   Seeing Alex and Miles interact was great because they were just so vastly different. On one hand we have Alex who cannot believe the fact that she may have found the boy she believed she had made you years ago, and on the other side we have Miles who was unable to deal with inter human relations in every way possible and it was brilliant. I love seeing characters with such prominent flaws and personalities which they keep up over the entirety of the book and not just drop at some point.

“Believing something existed and then finding out it didn't was 
like reaching the top of the stairs and thinking there was one more step.”

   One of the big reveals in Made You Up, which of course I will not spoil, has truly made me cry because it turned out that something I took for granted and real, just like Alex did, turned out to be not real at all and it was just heartbreaking to see Alex realize it and just read her thoughts and emotions. I love how real and honest it felt.

“I didn't have the luxury of taking reality for granted. And I wouldn't say I hated 
people who did, because that's just about everyone. I didn't hate them. They 
didn't live in my world.
But that never stopped me from wishing I lived in theirs.”

   All in all Made You Up is an extraordinary read definitely worth a shot, especially if you are into books which deal with mental illnesses and/or are just completely different for your average YA contemporary novels. I had a great time reading it and simply loved the way the story unfolded, slowly and beautifully. The ending fits perfectly, the characters are unique and different. I highly recommend this book.
I give Made You Up by Francesca Zappia 5 out of 5 Stars.